Well fed = better results

Over the years Muddy and I have learned that musicians generally play better if they are fed and watered on a regular basis, and so have been applying this rule to the builders, working on the extension.

The kettle first goes on at 8am, 3 coffees milk no sugar.  Nick the brick was until recently having 2 sugars in all his drinks, on account of not hearing him say, “No I don’t take sugar thanks.”  As the weather is getting a bit chilly we’ve also discovered that hot rolls improve the general mood.  Rich is a definite bacon and egg man although he switches from coffee to Earl Grey after lunch he’s also extremely partial to yum yums.  Will prefers sausage and egg and Nick is happy with anything although drew the line at Mud’s fried egg and avocado sambams.

The extension is attached to the office so we sort of feel part of the team, although our tastes in radio station do differ.  If at a loose end, we sometimes play Name That Tune with Will, he has no idea we do this, but it stems from his habit of singing along to the wireless loudly with gusto.  It’s quite tricky mind, as Will only ever sings one random line from any given song, bonus points are awarded for guessing correctly over the added din of noisy power tools and cement mixers.  For example Mud just scored big with St Elmo’s fire over an intermittent nail gun – respect.

Biscuits are another good motivator, though avoid anything with marshmallow in it.  Individually wrapped items fare better than loose custard creams as they can withstand even torrential rain and dust/concrete, nor do they go soft if the lid is left off the tin all day.

Once the supplies of bacon, sausage and eggs are depleted we make soup. Both carrot, coriander and ginger and leek and potato have gone down well with a buttered granary bap.

Of course these guys are incredibly active all day, so can eat copious amounts without it affecting their waistlines, I on the other hand, being a more sedentary member of the team am finding that listening to vast amounts of music and writing songs just isn’t that great for calorie burning.

Round three, “To me it makes a lot of sense.”  Rich adds a “Woah yo yo” and Mud’s straight in again with Buffalo Soldier.


Is there anything more irritating than losing your purse?

Is there anything more irritating than losing your purse? Well yes, I’m sure there is but it is annoying never the less.  We turned the house upside down looking for Mud’s credit card wallet but in the end gave up.

Funnily enough she was more upset about losing her Travis Perkins trade account card than anything else.

Rather than cancel the cards by phone we decided to walk into town to visit the branch in person, so armed with her passport and a utility bill Mud explained to the lady behind the counter that she needed to cancel her cards.  Alan the dog and I looked on.

The very helpful bank woman took the passport and went through the security checks on her computer, “Thank you Ms Teal.”  Doh!  Wrong passport.

The irony being, many years ago at Heathrow flying to Frankfurt, Mud was refused passage on account of having accidentally picked up her son’s passport instead of her own.  In a bid to stop this EVER happening again we purchased 3 different coloured Passport holders, Mud’s is vibrant pink and mine a tasteful brown but it seems when we were away in Dublin in August I had inadvertently switched them around… probably the stress of losing our suitcase but let’s not go there again.

Anyhow bank lady was able to use Mud’s utility bill, the cards were cancelled all good… or was it.  Popping into a well-known chemist to buy plasters, as you do.  I inserted my card as requested and managed to freeze the till.  Whilst the cashier rebooted her machine, which apparently takes a good half hour, she asked me to try the next one along which I duly did, same thing happened.

Three tills later having successfully broken Boots I headed back into the bank.  Thankfully we saw the same helpful staff member, who took my card and inserted into her machine, she took it out of the machine and rubbed it on her jumper, then on her skirt and then with a special cloth, but to no avail, it still wouldn’t work, only then did it dawn on us that the poor woman had accidentally cancelled my cards as well as Mud’s – completely understandable as we’d given her my passport.

To add insult to injury within minutes of being home, Mud remembered exactly where she’d left her card wallet complete with Travis Perkins Trade card.


You can take the girl out of Yorkshire …

I write to you from the building site that is our backyard. Since moving back to the M4 corridor in March, Muddy has embarked on serious renovation plans, removing walls and extending onto the back of the house, we’re currently in the “knocking seven bells out of anything in the way” phase.

I’m sitting at my desk, noise cancelling headphones firmly on the bonce and through the office window I see Nigel in his compact excavator delicately moving great big bits of what used to be a conservatory with the utmost precision into the dumper truck driven by Will.  Meanwhile Rich is measuring things and knocking wooden posts into the floor.  Looking at the piles of dirt, whacking great holes and blue pipes poking out of the ground, it’s hard to believe that by Christmas….end of January… sometime in February… we’ll be in by Easter, the work will be complete.

I think, I’m turning into my dad, he would have been fascinated by the comings and goings, I find myself mesmerised by the dextrous movements of the excavating machine, yes the three tonne TB228 is a very versatile little fella with massive breakout force – whatever that is, very comfortable to drive too with comfy armrests and an adjustable seat. It’s knocked a couple of outbuildings down, broken up all the brickwork path and now it’s digging for victory like a small dinosaur beavering about the garden, if it wasn’t so noisy it would be almost hypnotic.

However I was rudely awoken from my Jurassic daydream, by the bleeping of the washing machine, or rather the bleeping coming out of Mud’s mouth because the washing machine door wouldn’t open.  After a youtube tutorial we achieved early success but made the fatal mistake of putting the drier back on for a bit longer naively thinking we’d be able to open the dodgy door as easily the second time – WRONG.

Cue an hour of poking about the rim of the lid with a bent knife (the electric was off) I was on the verge of asking Nigel to let Godzooky have a go when finally the door opened once more.

We’ve drawn around the point of knife entry with a sharpie pen, the question now is do we get good at opening the broken door or do we look for a replacement washer drier.  You can take the girl out of Yorkshire!


‘Swing No End’ Catch our Prom on BBC iPlayer

From stomps and shuffles to boogie-woogie and blues, from bebop to Latin, Swing No End presents a slice of musical action from the 1920s to 1940s celebrating the triumphs of big band greats, including Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Benny Goodman, Tommy Dorsey, Jimmie Lunceford, Boyd Raeburn, Machito, Stan Kenton and Woody Herman.  Tribute is also paid to a highly respected but unassuming giant of the big band world – pianist, arranger and composer Mary Lou Williams.

The performance featured two roaring big bands, full of the finest musicians led by Guy Barker and Winston Rollins, and some very talented special guests – Vanessa Haynes, Mads Mathias, Accent Quartet, Pee Wee Ellis, Hiromi, Georgina Jackson, Rob Green, Cherise Adams-Burnett and Ben Cipolla.

You can watch the live performance here or listen here 

Guy Barker Big Band (Guy Barker MD/conductor/trumpet)
Saxophones: Graeme Blevins, Alan Barnes, Karen Sharp Paul Booth, Jessamy Holder
Trumpets: Nathan Bray, Tom Rees -Roberts, Chris Storr, Georgina Jackson/Guy Barker
Trombones: Nichol Thomson, Alastair White, Harry Brown, Mark Frost
Rhythm: Al Cherry, Mike Gorman, Tim Thornton, Ed Richardson

Winston Rollins Big Band (Winston Rollins conductor/trombone)
Saxophones: Howard McGill, Alex Garnett, Rob Fowler, Chelsea Carmichael, Gemma Moore
Trumpets: Mike Lovatt, Pat White, Freddie Gavita, Annette Brown
Trombones: Barnaby Dickinson, Callum Au, Maddie Dowdeswell, Barry Clements
Rhythm: David Archer, Joe Webb, Alec Dankworth, Shane Forbes

Roberto Pla
Satin Singh



All of Manchester’s communities stand together in strength, resilience and love.

In this most musical of cities, Manchester’s orchestral musicians from the Hallé, the BBC Philharmonic and the Manchester Camerata will come together with The Bridgewater Hall for a concert in support of the families and friends of the victims of last Monday’s atrocity.

The event details are:

  • Thursday 1 June at 8pm
  • The Bridgewater Hall, Manchester
  • Sir Mark Elder and Stephen Bell will conduct members of the Hallé, Manchester Camerata and BBC Philharmonic orchestras
  • Performances by Clare Teal, Alice Coote and Guy Garvey

The evening will include inspiring and uplifting classical music, a performance by Alice Coote – one of the world’s finest mezzo sopranos – as well as songs from international jazz star Clare Teal and award-winning singer-songwriter Guy Garvey.

Everyone involved with the event are giving their services free. Tickets for the concert are free, but you MUST have a ticket to gain entry.

We are asking people, if they are able, to make a donation to the WeStandTogetherManchester Justgiving page at


You can get the latest information, details on admission and book tickets by visiting www.halle.co.uk/westandtogether. You can also contact the box office on 0161 907 9000. The Bridgewater Hall has waived its usual ticket charge. You will need your tickets to gain entry to the building.

Please check the Hallé link above for updated information as it is confirmed.



Royal Albert Hall, 3pm Sunday 27th August 2017

Tickets on sale from 9am Saturday 13th May 2017 

From Stomps and Shuffles, Boogie-Woogie, Blues, Bebop to Latin, ‘Swing No End’   promises another powerful and upbeat slice of musical action from the 1930’s & 1940’s.

Featuring 2 roaring big bands and special guests battling against each other led by Guy Barker and Winston Rollins, singer and broadcaster Clare Teal, takes us another journey celebrating the triumphs of big band greats including Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Benny Goodman, Tommy Dorsey, Jimmie Lunceford, Boyd Raeburn, Machito, Stan Kenton and Woody Herman.



Twelve O’Clock Tales Is Here!

Our new album, Twelve O’Clock Tales, accompanied by the wonderful Hallė orchestra launched at The Bridgewater Hall on Saturday 30th April.

Conducted by Stephen Bell and arranged by British composer and trumpet maestro Guy Barker and celebrated jazz pianists Grant Windsor and Jason Rebello, Twelve O’Clock Tales’ rich jazz infused repertoire, with songs from Cole Porter, Billy Strayhorn and  Tim Rice, made famous by the likes of Ella Fitzgerald, Nina Simone, Nancy Wilson and Peggy Lee, includes ‘Sans Souci’, ‘Secret Love’, ‘Feeling Good’, ‘Lush Life’, ‘It Might As Well Be Spring’, ‘Wild Is The Wind’ and ‘Paradisi Carousel


The Making of ‘Twelve O’Clock Tales’ – Clare’s upcoming album

To whet your appetite, here’s a little taster of what’s to come … enjoy!

Accompanied by the renowned Hallé, conducted by Stephen Bell and arranged by British composer and trumpet maestro Guy Barker and celebrated jazz pianists Grant Windsor and Jason Rebello, Twelve O’Clock Tales’ rich jazz infused repertoire includes songs from Cole Porter, Billy Strayhorn, Van Morrison, Tim Rice, made famous by the likes of Ella Fitzgerald, Nina Simone, Nancy Wilson and Peggy Lee, the songs include ‘Sans Souci’, ‘Secret Love’, ‘Feeling Good’, ‘Lush Life’, ‘It Might As Well Be Spring’, ‘Wild Is The Wind’, ‘Into The Mystic’ and ‘Paradisi Carousel

Twelve O’Clock Tales launches at The Bridgewater Hall concert April 30th 2016

Pre orders are available now from Bandcamp